14 comments on “A quiet hero, ‘Bull’ Allen.

  1. I saw the article on ABC, and when I read your post, I thought it was familiar. I’m glad you included the ABC link, and the clip. Just an ordinary bloke doing extraordinary things. I know Aussies tend to be self-deprecating to a fault but he should have received Australian honours and recognition in addition to that from the US. We can never have enough heroes. I especially like that ‘Bull’ & Eleanor Roosevelt were friends and he named his daughter after her… pretty special.
    I’ve never been to Sovereign Hill, so I’m not wondering if I came across him there but I will have a look at the G.O.’s uncle self-publish memoir, as he was in PNG in the war and around that time possibly.

    • I would be interested to know if the G.O.’s uncle did come across him. I bet there were a multitude of amazing acts of bravery from everyday blokes that were never recognized.
      At least in this case Bull’s bravery was acknowledged by the US. A pity he wasn’t given the VC in his lifetime, but for his family I bet it would be better late than never.

      Perhaps he wouldn’t have wanted the personal fame that being awarded bought. It sounds like his actions were something he never spoke of, his son saying that he got most of his information from people who were there rather than his dad himself.

      I thought the mention of his daughter being called Eleanor was quite lovely. It showed that he and Eleanor Roosevelt had more than just a single thank you letter connection.

      I was surprised to find the clip, I particularly like the bit at the end where they are just making some tucker under a tarp out in the jungle. They look just like blokes anywhere, having a laugh and mucking about. Hard to imagine the hardship they were going through at the time.

      • I checked our book and the G.O.’s uncle, Jim, was last in PNG in 1945. The G.O. loved your post & the story, and when he gets a minute, I’ll play him the clip.
        It’s true many of the heroes never spoke of their actions. It’s quite amazing that Bull wasn’t injured, it’s like he was being protected so he could save those lives.

        • I’m glad the G.O. liked it.
          It is amazing that Bull wasn’t shot, I don’t believe in god so I am not going to call it a miracle, but obviously it wasn’t his time. How many other stories like this are out there, and how many acts of bravery never received any recognition at all? (And what would the world be like without these amazing people?)

  2. That video almost had me in tears. That is the kind of courage, and compassion, that makes being human worthwhile. And by god does it ever make me feel proud to be an aussie. Is there anything we can do to have this extraordinary man recognized here at home? Can’t believe he isn’t part of our legends.

    • And what an amazing photo. There was a small statue made in the likeness of that photo and (I think) presented to his family. I think that a larger one in a prominent place in Ballarat would be a great way of reminding people of his bravery long after any medal had been forgotten.

      I didn’t see any links to a petition or any other campaign to see him awarded in the ABC article, I wonder if there is any real movement to see him given the VC or if it is just the historians putting out feelers at the moment?

      • Grrr… WP must be tweaking again because now the notifications icon isn’t lighting up. Lucky I checked out of habit.

        Anyway… I agree, a statue would be a fantastic permanent memorial to this unsung hero.

        I hope there is something real happening because this Digger deserves to be as well-known and well-loved as Simpson and his donkey. -shakes head- Why one but not the other?

  3. It’s amazing that someone would descend into hell to rescue men not even from his unit, his regiment let alone not from his Country. It’s good that the Americans recognised his bravery as they did but Australia should also have recognised it. Usually for that to happen he would need to be mentioned in despatches. Does anyone know if his own Commanding Officer did his?
    There is much to commend the bravery of the ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances but what Bull did was nothing short of amazing. I’d like to think the other side recognised his bravery and didn’t shoot to kill.

    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • It was an amazing thing to do for your own unit, even more amazing that he did it for people he didn’t even know in the face of almost certain death.
      You’re right, there should be a particular protocol to follow at the time to lead to a medal. Since they weren’t supposed to be fighting I wonder if he had gone against orders, and as such it was kept out of the dispatches? Hmmm… I wonder if there is anything digitised about it at the AWM?

    • Pleased I could share his story with you. I guess at the time he was probably well known in the US, apparently he was even offered movie roles! These stories do fall by the wayside over time though, don’t they. It is good to be reminded of them and what amazing things people are capable of.

      I can’t imagine what kind of strength it would take (mental and physical) to carry a dozen men any distance at all, let alone up and down muddy gullies under fire as he did. What a man he must have been.

    • I’m pleased you liked it, it is certainly an amazing act of bravery and strength. I doubt any of us could do the same thing in perfect safety and with a comfy seat and a cool drink waiting for us at the end.

      • No doubt; I think it takes the rush of adrenaline that occurs in situations such as combat for an individual to be able to carry a dozen men to safety, all while under fire. What’s just as amazing was his disregard for his own safety. That he didn’t receive the VC is ludicrous.

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